January 18, 2008

Poetry Friday: Blundering

"Street Moths," by X.J. Kennedy, from The Lords of Misrule (Johns Hopkins University Press). If you haven't read any X.J. Kennedy, you're missing a treat. He writes for adults and children, check out the links!

The Poetry Princesses are a group of poets - and me - who are writing sonnets of young adulthood. Though this isn't a sonnet, it reminded me of a long play version We Real Cool and adds to the slowly growing pile of poetry I've found that records the adolescent masculine experience. I really like the imagery of blundering moths... so appropriate.

Street Moths

Mature enough to smoke but not to drink,
    Grown boys at night before the games arcade
Wearing tattoos that wash off in the sink
    Accelerate vain efforts to get laid.
Parading in formation past them, short
    Skirts and tight jeans pretending not to see
This pack of starving wolves who pay them court
    Turn noses up at cries of agony—
Baby, let's do it! Each suggestion falls
    Dead to the gutter to be swept aside
Like some presumptuous bug that hits brick walls,
    Rating a mere Get lost and death-ray eyes.
Still, they keep launching blundering campaigns,
    Trying their wings once more in hopeless flight:
Blind moths against the wires of window screens.
    Anything. Anything for a fix of light.


Poetry Friday is hosted at Farm School.

16 comments:

SevenImpossible said...

Wow, you're right. That's some impressive imagery. Sigh. How can people write this well? My very left brain, incapable of coming up with such stirring metaphors (but which can at least appreciate them) is throbbing from it all.

Jules, 7-Imp

writer2b said...

I like the moth imagery too.

This reminds me of the poem someone (Karen Edmiston?) posted last week about a young writer "trying her wings." Different kinds of blundering, and different levels of hope. But maybe similar risks, and similar motivations.

Thanks for this. X.J. Kennedy is a new poet to me.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Tadmack,

That's quite a poem! Kennedy's "Nude Descending a Staircase" is one of my all time favorite poems. He exhibits quite a range in the poetry he's published. He's written a lot of humorous verse for kids. I love two of the books he collaborated on with his wife Dorothy: "Talking Like the Rain" and "Knock at a Star."

Cloudscome said...

How desperately sad. Poor fluttering moths... if I weren't a girl I would almost feel sorry for that pack of starving wolves...

Great poem giving voice to those moments, huh?

sheila said...

"Still launching blundering campaigns" I love it. It's so very, err, atmospheric. Reminds me of every boy I knew in school.

cheers / sheila

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thanks for posting this poem! I remember X.J. Kennedy from shelving him, but I don't think I actually read his poetry. This poem brings to mind all sorts of interesting behaviors done with the hopes of wooing teenage girls. (One thing, not mentioned in this poem, is the practice of talking like Donald Duck in order to impress girls. I don't get it and never have.)

Kelly Fineman said...

Dude, your description nailed it - an EP version of We Real Cool, for sure. So great.

For some really gritty poems that deal with teen masculinity, check out Tough Boy Sonatas by Curtis Crisler. They are a bit hard to read sometimes (hard as in emotionally difficult, not as in difficult to understand), but it's because they speak so clearly to the experience of inner city youth in a hard-times city.

Liz in Ink said...

Ugh. It almost hurts to read. In a good way....

a. fortis said...

I love this! What a great idea and a powerful poem.

jama said...

Great poem. Haven't read many about the teenage boy's experience. It does ring true!

Becky said...

I read this one shortly after reading the poem Elaine has at Blue Rose Girls about turning frogs into princes. Life can be so hard at times, can't it...

Ruth said...

You're right - the moths image is perfect.

Sara said...

Blundering campaigns...so perfect. And yet some of those moths learn, don't they? Learn quite well and it's a beautiful thing.

Kelly said...

X.J. is AWESOME. Thanks for the poem.

Mary Lee said...

I'm okay with being the wire window screen in this poem.

laurasalas said...

Love X.J. Kennedy. What a visceral poem about this moment. Drops me back right into 14ness. Thanks for sharing!